• Dr Samir Vyas

Motifs of Modern Marriages - An Indian View

Updated: Jun 9

Modern Marriages have many features, nuances, shades, themes and colours.

These repetitive patterns in marriages are what I call Motifs of Modern Marriage.

Some of the Indian Motifs I have envisioned are:

1.Shiva-Parvati are the ultimate role models for a happy hindu marriage. Hindus don't bless the couple saying,"May you be like Ram-Sita!"Because they had many hardships, had to live in vanvaas-forest, had separation and they had to go through many trials and tribulations in their marriage.

Hindus also don't say,"May you live like Radha-Krishna!" Because Radha was not Krishna's wife!She was his lover! She was also older than him.

So therefore,the Hindus always bless the married couple, "May you live like Shiva-Parvati!"

Shiva-Parvati are the symbol of a perfect marital bliss.Complete harmony in marriage, A very deep and fulfilling relationship at all levels.Thus Shiva-Parvati is the ideal motif of a hindu marriage.

2.Ardha Narishwara - The brilliant iconography of Shiva-Parvati as ardhanarishwara , is where one half of the image is of Lord Shiva and the other is of Mother Parvati.This is symbolic of the masculine and feminine energies of the universe. It also informs the śankhya philosophy and the Purusha-Prakriti principle. It also symbolises the fluidity of gender role in a marriage.Both father and mother as assertive and caring at the same time.

Gender roles in marriages change with context,time and place.Ardhanarishwara is a potent motif of modern marriage in India.

3.Hamsa- Sarus-cranes. These swans have a mythical role in Hindu mythology.In the Nala-Damayanti story the Hamsa carries information.stories and messages between the two lovers."Do hamso ka joda." - is a common hindi phrase used in hindi film songs to depict a perfect couple in bliss married forever. Therefore Hamsa is another Motif of a Hindu marriage.

4.Rituals,rites and religion.Hinduism has many rituals.Also as many as sixteen rites of passages or sixteen samskaras are present.The religion itself has a vision and a view of marriage.

Sex as a sin concept is absent in hinduism and infact marriage is seen as a great opportunity for growth in one's spiritual growth.Dharma,artha,kama and moksha all four purusharthas can be pursued in marriage. Vedic rituals need the presence of both husband and wife to be conducted.Out of the sixteen samskaras , marriage is the most important one.Vivaah mantras have a deep and profound meaning.Thus the rituals,rites and religion itself is a motif of marriage in India.

5.The Eternal Triangle - as a motif





Self qualities are personality qualities of the individual.The individual traits that make up the person includes personality, attitudes and skills.The emotional health of a person plays a great role in the marriage outcome.

Couple Qualities mainly consist of communication skills as a couple and circumstances of the marriage.

Some of the couple qualities include background, religion, culture, values and role models.

Contextual facts refer to the influence of family-of-origin in which the individuals grew up, what kind of a relationship the individuals had with their parents, the quality of their parents marriage, socio-economic context, education,caste, class , and wealth .

The DYNAMIC interaction between these three factors make up the Marriage Triangle.

6.Consumerism- Return of the Charvakas. Many modern individuals seek only selfishness in their relationship.Whats in it for me, Mera Kya? is a mantra chanted by these individuals.Their marriage ship hits the rocks the moment there is a call for sacrifice or contribution to the other partner for any physical or emotional need.”Rinam kritva ghrutam pibet” - Just enjoy yourself without bothering about the partner.
Outcome is that you want more, and you are not content with what you have.
You complain that you don't have what other people have.
You use people and care for things rather than care for people and use things.Western Consumer culture in modern marriage is a repeated motif.Use and throw. Chase your own pleasure without thought and care for the opposite partner.Thus consumerism has become a common motif of indian marriage.

7.Blame Game.(Emotional Atyaachaar) It’s not my fault! He or she is responsible for this mess!Blaming the partner or one's parents or one’s past or anything except oneself is a repeated motif seen in many married couples.Woh toh aise he hai!Mera fault nahin hai!

8. Love hai toh sab kuch hai! A lot of marriages, especially in the very beginning of the relationship, start with this motif.If we love each other then we will make it.Our marriage will be successful simply because we love each other.This motif even though common, has many pitfalls.Marriage based on emotional tugs rather than balanced reason is likely to sink.The “Love” felt by young couples may actually be something else, for instance, a simple sexual infatuation, an escape from parents, a neurotic coupling (as in "Daddy will protect you, my baby"-syndrome) or one partner dominating the other in a sado-masochistic relationship. The phrase ‘ I Love You” has such a strong connotation in our culture that it can be an excuse for anything in a relationship, even abuse and selfishness.

Out of the thirty or so pre-marriage predictors of marriage satisfaction as discovered by researchers,romantic love is only one.

9. Ill-logical emotions.A fulfilling and meaningful marriage has partners who share a wide range of emotional experiences with each other.If a husband and wife routinely share anger,joy,grief,boredom,sadness and humor,their marriage will be intimate and grow stronger.When one spouse decides to emotionally withdraw or has never learned to share emotionally, marital strife often ensues.This emotional constrictiveness is a common pattern and motif in marriages.

It is important to note that all desires are not necessarily wrong or the root of conflict. It's when a desire becomes a demand that trouble begins. The more you make choices in order to get your own way, the more likely you are to have conflict with others.

Every marriage has its motifs, they need not be bad.The thing to remember is not fall a prey to repetitive negative patterns.

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